Post Primary Education Program Increases Student Enrollment in Uganda

August 31, 2010

  • In Uganda, student enrollment in primary schools is on the rise
  • An IDA-financed project is helping by supporting the hiring of additional teachers
  • The country is on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Education by 2015

KAMPALA, August 31, 2010 – From 2007 to 2009, post primary education in Uganda increased by almost 150,000 students across the country. The reason: focused government efforts to create a more dynamic and productive work force.

The efforts center on the Universal Secondary Education (USE) policy, a policy that has helped increase transition rates between primary and secondary school from 51 percent in 2006 to 69 percent in 2007. USE is part of the Ugandan government’s Universal Post Primary Education and Training (UPPET) program. Launched in 2007, UPPET aims to provide quality options for the increasing numbers of students completing primary education and seeking a secondary education. Among those options: additional and better trained teachers.

The World Bank’s involvement began in 2009 with the launch of the UPPET project that included financial contributions of about 20 percent of the UPPET program budget. Additional support comes from development partners including the African Development Bank, the Belgian Embassy/Technical Cooperation, Embassy of Ireland, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the United Nations Population Fund and the Netherlands Embassy.

The UPPET project ushered in an ambitious and comprehensive reform program to provide universal access to quality post primary education and training which has played a critical role in providing future workers with competencies and knowledge required for increase in productivity and labor mobility,” says Dr. Yusuf Nsubuga, Director of Basic Education at the Ministry of Education in Kampala.

In 2009, following the UPPET project launch, the Ministry recruited an additional 1400 teachers. As a result of the boost, secondary enrollment rates have gone from just over 160,000 in 2007 to more than 452,000 in 2009, according to the Ministry. Transition rates are estimated to reach 74 percent in 2010, up from 69 percent in 2007.

As the government efforts to improve access to and the quality of primary education bear fruit, the percentage of students passing the primary school leavers exam will continue to increase, thereby raising the pool of potential secondary school students,” said Nsubuga.

In addition to funding the hiring of more teachers, the program is also improving the country’s education infrastructure, according to Ms. Sukhdeep Brar, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and Task Team Leader for the UPPET.

The project provides for construction of 4,297 new classrooms and completion and/or rehabilitation of 1,864 classrooms,” Brar said. “These additional classrooms will ease the pressure on existing facilities, reducing student to classroom ratios thereby enabling improved learning.”

The project also provides additional facilities such as improved sanitation, improved water supply, multi-purpose science rooms and libraries, as well as supplies such as science kits and text books Brar said.

World Bank Support

World Bank support to the UPPET is in the form of a $150 million International Development Association (IDA)-financed adjustable program loan (APL) to be implemented in three phases over a 10-year period. The intervention in Uganda furthers the World Bank’s goal of improving the quality of education and supporting countries as they seek to attain the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including the goal of achieving Universal Education. The APL is to be implemented over a 10-year period in three phases. The loan is currently in Phase 1.

In addition, “efficiencies in procurement are likely to result in significantly improving the student to textbook ratios for the seven core subjects,” Brar said. “The project also supports a review of the lower secondary curriculum and some additional studies to inform further improvements.”

In partnership with other donors, the Bank also is assisting Uganda’s government as they develop a strategy for Business, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (BTVET). The aim of the strategy is to meet the demands of a growing and better trained workforce.

Challenges Ahead

Uganda is on track to achieve its 2015 target of 100 percent enrollment, according to the 2007 United Nations Development Programme mid-term report on Uganda’s performance on the MDGs.

But beyond the numbers, significant challenges still remain. A need exists for additional facilities (classrooms, science laboratories, libraries, improved water and sanitation); qualified teachers; text books and other learning materials; and supporting management and supervision services. 

As well, less than one-third of the students enrolled are actually completing school. Ministry of Education statistics show that only 30 percent of the pupils who started primary 1 in 2003 sat for Primary Leaving Examinations in 2009.

Another challenge is large class sizes. UPPET-driven enrollment expansion has resulted in a critical shortage of classroom spaces, according to Mr. Fortunate Ahimbisibwe, also at the Ministry of Education. By 2007, 243 out of 791 schools participating in UPPET had class sizes of more than 80 students. 

There are not enough textbooks,” Ahimbisibwe said. “The project aims to alleviate some of these pressures in the system,” he said.

To meet the challenges, the government is adopting additional measures under the UPPET program: 

  • Optimization of teachers’ time on task
  • Greater utilization of classrooms through double shifts
  • Low-cost construction norms
  • Rationalization and reduction of subjects in the curriculum
  • Capacity development for school managers
  • Strengthening the partnership with the private sector
  • Improved school inspections

The Government of Uganda is the premier financier of UPPET. Additional financial contributions are provided by the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Embassy of Belgium, the German Technical Assistance Agency (GTZ), Irish Aid, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).